The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 2.17.14 Issue #294: American Nightmare (2002)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 02.17.2014
A look at the 2002 thriller American Nightmare, two new batches of Things to Watch Out For This Week, a new B-Movie Babe is named, a new Douchebag of the Week is crowned, and more!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #294: American Nightmare (2002)
Debuary: A Month of Debbie Rochon: Week 2
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never had to fight off a bear with a crowbar, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and ninety-four, Debuary: A Month of Debbie Rochon continues with a look at the low budget thriller from 2002, American Nightmare, written and directed by Jon Keeyes.
American Nightmare (2002)
American Nightmare is one of the strangest low budget B-movie thrillers I think I've ever seen. Part slow burn mystery, part sadistic, goreless slasher movie, American Nightmare features an insanely scary performance by star Debbie Rochon and a weird as hell ending that makes you question everything you see in the movie's 91 minute running time. Rochon plays Jane Toppan, a weird beard mental patient and killer who, for reasons that are never made clear, decides to stalk, terrorize, and kill a group of random people she overhears in a cafe talking to a pirate radio show called "The American Nightmare." The radio show, hosted by some dude named Caligari (Chris Ryan), wants to hear about people's biggest fears on Halloween night, which makes sense for a radio show airing on Halloween. A group of friends hanging out at the cafe decides to call in and spill the beans on their various fears. Some are very into the idea, like Misty (Rebecca Stacey), and others think the premise of the radio show topic is stupid, like Bruce (Kenyon Holmes). Jessie (Brandy Little) is also not a fan, mostly because she isn't into scary things (her sister is missing and believed murdered, so she isn't into death and whatnot). They have no idea that Jane is in the room with them and listening in. They also have no idea who Jane is.
Once all of that has been established, the group of friends disperses to get ready for a big Halloween party, and Jane starts her assault on the group. Now, most low budget movies, once they get to the "killing people" stage, pick up the pace, but American Nightmare is one of those rare low budget movies that has absolutely no problem taking its time to get where it wants to go. The characters talk, the suspense grows, and you can't wait to see what the heck happens next. The first scene of the movie, however, is very different. Rochon's Jane stalks, chases, and kills people on a camping trip in the woods. It's quick, it's mean, it's practically a scene lifted from an action movie. I'm going to assume that director Keeyes created this scene because he had to establish quickly what Jane is before the "real" movie began. I probably wouldn't have done that and simply allowed the Jane character to start her killing spree without any early explanation, but what Keeyes does works well, too. The opening scene also allows us to see one of the better character meltdowns of the 2000's.
I am surprised by the movie's lack of gore. Outside of a little blood on the knives that Jane uses, we don't get to see any gross stuff. No gushing wounds, no scenes where we see the knife (or an axe or a huge boulder) destroy human flesh. How often do we see that in a low budget horror movie? And how often do we see it where, while you kind of miss the blood and guts, you don't necessarily mind not seeing them? It's a weird dichotomy, yes, but when it's done well it's a thing to behold. The movie does feature some nudity, though, so it's not like Keeyes and company are not trying to make an exploitation movie. However, I do want to call attention to a scene involving Rochon seducing Holmes' Bruce. It is, without question, one of the least erotic sex scenes I think I've ever seen. It's intimate, it's believable, but there's also a sense of danger involved that makes the viewer squeamish as hell. You know Jane isn't going to have sex with Bruce (Jane's face when Bruce tries to kiss her tells you that), but you don't quite know what she's going to do him when she disrobes and gets in bed with him. I don't want to spoil anything specific about the scene, but I will say that it will probably prevent you from fantasizing about Debbie Rochon for a little while.
The cast, by and large, is outstanding. Brandy Little is great as Jessie. She's terrific as the sort of "slasher movie final girl" (she doesn't want to participate in the Halloween party or the radio show, so that automatically makes her the "final girl"), and she's never annoying when she starts whining about how much she can't stand scary things (that's always a plus). Johnny Sneed is excellent as Wayne, Jessie's sort of boyfriend. He spends most of the time on his computer chatting with various people, but when Jane starts tormenting him you start to feel yourself the queasiness in his stomach. And the great Heather Hasse deserves special mention for her role of Melanie. What her character goes through is horrific, but I think you'll enjoy her Halloween costume. I know I did.
Chris Ryan, as Caligari the radio show host, is a strange presence because you're not quite sure what his deal really is. Is he just the host of a pirate radio show, or is he meant to be something else? You'll also wonder why the FCC isn't out looking for him (not to mention all of the bands he plays on his show. Did he pay to get those CD's?). And why doesn't Jane go after him? Is that the basis for a sequel?
And Rochon (I can't stress this enough) is nothing short of a force of nature here. Eventhough you know she's a killer and a monster you're never quite sure what her real deal is. Why does she flip out every so often and swear to the heavens? Why does she keep stabbing the ground? And why does she keep taking pills? What the heck are those pills anyway? You will be terrified. You will be unsettled. I know I was.
And then there's the ending. What the heck happens? Is Jane an actual killer, or did we just see a sort of manifestation of Jane's own worst nightmare? Is the movie meant to be Jane's dream? Is that why she's crying?
American Nightmare is a low budget thriller that needs to be seen. It will freak you out, it will scare you, and it will make you question what it's about. I'm still not sure about the ending. Is the movie "real" or is it all in Jane's head?
See American Nightmare. See it, see it, see it. It's amazing.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: 9+
Explosions: None. It's not that kind of movie.
Doobage: Screams, running, a severe beating, a small radio station, CD's with the movie's title and cast and whatnot on them, smoking, a pirate radio show, a big movie discussion, a jack-o-lantern ashtray, pills, Debbie Rochon's tongue, a very naked shower, hair washing, an open window, Halloween on TV, a giant bag of Halloween candy, attempted radio phone sex, cyber sex, a Halloween party out in the woods, hand foreplay, face painting, a poisoned drink, bondage, a lack of kissing, Debbie Rochon topless, an off screen gutting, a back injection, a woman is buried alive, ground stabbing, stabbing a cell phone recording, a scary website, a Voodoo doll, a scary stabbing, a very lame gun, several threatening phone calls, tape bondage, a school attack, and a weird ending that makes you question what it is the movie is really about.
Kim Richards?: Attempted.
Gratuitous: People on a camping trip in the woods, Debbie Rochon, Debbie Rochon acting like a lunatic, a pirate radio show, Debbie Rochon smoking, Debbie Rochon's tongue, a big movie discussion, hair washing, Halloween on the TV, phone sex, hand foreplay, Debbie Rochon topless, a "Gravedigger," dirt stabbing, a voodoo doll, a message in blood, a very lame gun, a school attack, and a weird ending that makes you question what it is the movie is really about.
Best lines: "Have another beer and shut the fuck up!," "Fuck you, Nick," "You fucking bitch! Who the fuck do you think you are?," "You haven't heard American Nightmare?," "Hold on, we're having testicular difficulties," "It's all good," "That's the spirit of Halloween, kids in the hospital," "I don't like nightmares," "You whore. Don't call me a whore. Why?," "So, you wanna read?," "So where's your girlfriend?," "Oh, man, I think I'm in lust," "What's a fire ritual?," "I'll take a gravedigger," "Watch out for that one. He's a known perv," "Don't take your underwear off. I'll take them off," "What the fuck are you doing with a knife, bitch?," "Hey, I think you need another gravedigger," "Fuck you!," "Are you awake, Melanie?," "Fuck you, Melanie! Fuck you!," "Are you okay? I feel like ass," "You want to know why? That's why," "How does it feel to be an only child, Jessie?," "The crybaby and the cunt, together at last!," and "You just killed your sister. How does it feel?"
Next Issue: Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape!
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey (this really is going to happen at some point). And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.
And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!
A Random Rochon Fact
Debbie Rochon was inducted into the B-Movie Hall of Fame in 2004.
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1
- Battle of the Damned: The great Dolph Lundgren stars in this low budget sci-fi horror flick that has him fighting both robots and zombies. It doesn't really matter if, in the end, the movie is terrible, as it's a movie where Dolph goddamn Lundgren fights both robots and zombies. We all have to see it, experience it, and internalize it. This will definitely get a look from this very column in December.
- Hellbenders: This low budget adaptation of a graphic novel by J.T. Petty (he did both the comic book and the movie) did get a small theatrical release, in 3D, so there's a chance you may have had a chance to see it on the big screen. It was also featured on the cover of an issue of Rue Morgue not that long ago, so there's a chance you may have read about it. I'm kind of surprised that Lionsgate didn't try to get this a wider theatrical release. Yes, it looks a little weird and whatnot but I think it could have done okay for itself. I mean, Clancy Brown is in it. That means something.
- Random Acts of Violence: This low budget horror comedy, originally known as Charm and or Malcolm, looks cruel and ridiculous but oddly funny at the same time. The new name, while cool, doesn't have the same ring to it, though. Malcolm is a better name.
- Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming: This is a remake of a horror flick of the same name from the 1970's. It looks pretty cool, with an iconic axe murderer the focus of the story. Has anyone out there seen this? Is it as good as it looks? Is it as nasty as it looks?
Ralph Waite 1928-2014 RIP
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
TV Quick Hits
- Jay Leno's final The Tonight Show thoughts: Jay Leno's second stint as host of The Tonight Show ended with laughs and genuine sadness, unlike the end of his first stint, which was definitely more hopeful and fun. I'm guessing that was due to the fact that Leno had his prime time show to look forward to. Now, Leno has no real plan outside of continuing his stand up dates around the country. Will he stick with NBC and do the "Bob Hope thing" (host specials every now and then) or will he start a new show at another network?
Leno's final show was funny. His monologue had some good stuff in it, and the retrospective bits were great (I loved the bit Mark Wahlberg did). Bill Crystal's speech was a nice tribute, and his sit down interview was funny (I'm always a sucker for guest plugs that aren't plugs). The Sound of Music tribute thing came off as a little too random (why was Jim Parsons there? Was he a new favorite guest of Leno's? Did I miss something? Everyone seemed to lose their mind about Kim Kardashian showing up, but Kardashian has been a part of Leno's joke set for the last few years. Her presence made sense), but the Garth Brooks performance was a great way to end it all.
I know, as a member of the internets, I'm supposed to despise Jay Leno and root for everyone else, especially Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O'Brien, but I'm not going to do that. I liked Jay Leno's show, and while it will be interesting to see what Jimmy Fallon can do with the 11:35pm timeslot, it was sad to see Leno go. And it will be weird not having him on TV. It just will.
So what happens next for Leno? Will he stay away from TV and not go to another network? Will he do the "Bob Hope thing at NBC? I have a feeling that Leno will stick with NBC and do the "Bob Hope thing." I just don't see him going anywhere else outside of maybe doing the Oscars one year for ABC. I don't think cable is appealing to him, and I don't see Fox offering up major money to land Leno for a late night gig that, as we saw back when there were rumblings that Conan was going to Fox, is just about impossible to put together quickly. It would take at least a year to get the timeslot issues figured out with the affiliates.
So good luck, Jay Leno, whatever you chose to do next. I'm sure you'll don fine. And good luck Jimmy Fallon. Your first The Tonight Show is tonight. It should be fun.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Brandy Little
A Random Rochon Fact
Debbie Rochon won the Phantom of the Movies Videoscope "Best Psychette" (Best Female Psycho in a movie) for 2002 for her work in American Nightmare.
Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2
- Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series: The original Battlestar Galactica is getting yet another DVD release, which is fine with me as it's a great show (I still prefer the original series to the reboot). I will say, though, that this new set isn't as cool as the one that came out several years ago, the one that came in the Cylon head. You just don't get any cooler than that.
- Angry Nazi Zombies: I have no idea why this movie, originally called Battlefield Death Tales, changed its name to Angry Nazi Zombies. I'm going to venture a guess that the movie's title was changed because of the general success of Dead Snow and the producers want you to think Angry Nazi Zombies is that movie.
- Dead Creatures: This low budget British zombie flick was made back in 2001 but was never given a North American DVD release. I have no idea why. You would think that the video store entities, which we still had in relative abundance back in the early 2000's, would have been all about this movie and the other movies in what has been called director Andrew Parkinson's "body horror trilogy," I, Zombie and Venus Drowning. Zombies were a big deal back then, too. Looks pretty cool, so what the heck?
- Natural Rejection: This is a low budget horror flick with a political message. We don't see that all that much anymore, outside of the fine folks at Troma. That's something I'd like to see happen more often. Maybe Natural Rejection will be the movie that changes all that.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
"I'm taking a stand, dammit! I am not gay!"
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to Douchebag Hall of Famer and drug addict Rush Limbaugh, for saying "We're fast approaching a world where it ain't cool to be straight." As Media Matters documented, while discussing football player Michael Sam's recent announcement that he's gay, Rush makes it sound as though there's some sort of concerted effort by the "liberal" media to not only force homosexuality down the throats of the American public, but also an effort to convert the world into a giant mass of gayness. Oh, and this discussion is also part of the ultra right wing media's prediction that Sam, if he isn't picked by a top NFL team, is going to "cry discrimination," because that's what gays always do.
What bullshit. Does Rush really want us to believe that hot women in bikinis, the porn business, and the sport of hunting are somehow going to go away because Michael Sam is going to play professional football? Hot female cheerleaders are going to be for lesbian eyes only? That the government is going to somehow force you into marrying a man or a woman because that's the "tolerant" thing to do. Did you tell Elton John all of this stuff when he performed at your wedding?
Why is the right wing so fucking insane? Does anyone out there have any insight on this?
And then there's 7-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty, for once again denigrating Danica Patrick, saying that the only way she'd ever win a NASCAR race is if everyone else dropped out and she was the only car left. Petty, who is on record as saying that women shouldn't be allowed to race, needs to somehow progress into the 21st fucking century (or at least the latter half of the twentieth). I have no idea how he should do it, but he really needs to get with the times and stop being such a lunatic. While Patrick didn't have a great rookie season in Sprint Cup, she ran well in the Nationwide Series in 2012 and had a real chance of winning the Daytona 500 last year. Plus, she's only been around stock cars for a few years. She needs time to get better (and she will get better). She belongs in NASCAR.
And if the King is going to get all upset about drivers getting spots in the series "for entertainment value" or because they have money or some sort of "in," maybe he needs to lash out against his son Kyle for using the Petty name to hang around NASCAR for over twenty years and accomplish very little.
Yeah. I bet that'll happen one day.
And finally there's rapper Drake, for whining about being removed from the cover of Rolling Stone after the magazine decided to put Philip Seymour Hoffman on the cover instead. While Drake did eventually apologize and explain why he was upset with the magazine (you can read all about the story here), it's still all very silly. Celebrities really need to calm down and think before they lose their mind on Twitter or on Facebook. Just calm down and think. You're a mega rich celebrity. What real problems do you have? Are you going to lose your house because you're not on the cover of Rolling Stone?
Jesus Christ. Why is everything bullshit?
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
Finally, NASCAR is back and the 2014 racing season is underway. It's great to have racing back on TV. The Sprint Unlimited Saturday night was a bit of a bore, but it was still awesome to see the guys and gal back on the track trying to get to the front. I was surprised by how much individual passing we saw during the Unlimited. You couldn't stay by yourself for very long and Daytona is still all about the draft and big pack racing, but it was still amazing to see drivers break off from the pack and try to overtake.
Denny Hamlin dominated the race, winning all three segments of the Unlimited and essentially picking up where he left off at the end of 2013. Brad Keselowski was fast, too, but he just couldn't get hooked up enough to get by Hamlin. And Kevin Harvick, in his new #4 Stewart-Haas car, managed to salvage a decent top ten finish after being involved in that huge wreck in the second segment. His car wasn't totaled like his teammates Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, and Kurt Busch, but Harvick did sustain some damage, and since aerodynamics are such a big part of winning at Daytona I was amazed by how Harvick was able to hold on for so long. Yes, it helped that half of the 18 car field was gone, but it was still an impressive run.
That big wreck in segment two was ridiculous. What the hell was Matt Kenseth thinking trying to block like that? And why didn't Ricky Stenhouse Jr's spotter tell him to try to move his car so he wouldn't smash into a spinning Patrick during that wreck? He still had his brakes, right? So what the heck was the deal there? And Dale Earnhardt, Jr's wreck with Marcos Ambrose was weird. I didn't think it would happen. And Jimmie Johnson's single car wreck in the first segment was weird, too. How did he lose control?
And what the heck happened to the pace car towards the end of the final segment? How does the pace car catch on fire by itself?
Time trials for the Daytona 500 were yesterday, and Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon won the pole. I know I'm supposed to be stoked about the idea of the #3 not only back in Sprint Cup but also on the pole for the 500, but I'm just not. To me, Austin Dillon isn't all that impressive as a driver, and despite what the NASCAR marketing people want me to believe, he is not and never will be Dale Earnhardt. Martin Truex qualified second in the Furniture Row #76, the single car team that Kurt Busch raced for last year. I thought that qualification was far more impressive and far more interesting, especially after Truex's decision to leave Michael Waltrip Racing after the big "cheating" thing during the fall Richmond race, but then Martin Truex isn't the third coming of Dale Earnhardt.
The Budweiser Duels are this Thursday night on Fox Sports 1. It'll be interesting to see if the big Hendrick motor issue is still an issue for the, I believe, 12 cars that use those engines. And then Friday night the Camping World Truck Series starts its 2014 season with a race at Daytona, and then the Nationwide Series races on Saturday. The Daytona 500 will be Sunday afternoon. Hopefully I'll get a chance to watch most of those (I'm probably going to miss a big chunk of the 500 because of a family obligation but I will definitely see the end of it).
I missed most of the ARCA race on Saturday. I didn't see the big wreck that apparently happened towards the beginning of the race, but I did see plenty of lame single file racing. Why didn't anyone make a move at the end? Why did 8-time ARCA Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart just sit back at the end and settle for a top 10? I really thought he would make a charge for the front at the end.
Over in Indycar, Simona De Silvestro announced last week that she is going to pursue a career in Formula 1 and will become a full test driver for the Sauber F-1 team in 2014 with the hope of getting to race for the Sauber team in 2015. I believe she has to get her "drivers super license" or whatever it's called in order to race in F1, and the testing plan the Sauber team has in place for her will allow her to get that license. I also believe that this deal will prevent her from competing in Indycar, which is a shame because the series can't afford to lose anyone, especially someone as popular as Simona.
Now, will she actually get a chance to race in 2015 with the Sauber team? I really don't know. If she can survive the politics of F-1 and not crash too many times while testing she should have a decent shot at a real seat. But then, if someone with a big checkbook and a major sponsor shows up and wants the Sauber seat the team will pick that driver and have De Silvestro continue as a test driver. Or the team could just fire her. Again, F-1 is a snake pit of politics and anything could happen (not that Indycar isn't a pit of politics, too, but it pales in comparison to Formula 1). I think it's cool that she's getting a chance to chase her dream of racing in F-1, but I would have preferred to see her stay in Indycar. Again, the series can't afford to lose anyone.
Good luck Swiss Miss.
A Random Rochon Fact
Debbie Rochon has hosted four different radio shows.
Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.
*** All "Random Debbie Rochon Facts" courtesy of imdb.com, wikipedia, and Debbie Rochon.com
Debbie Rochon- Jane Toppan Brandy Little- Jessie McClain Johnny Sneed- Wayne Holcomb Chris Ryan- Caligari Robert McCollum- Tony Collins Kristin McCollum- Cynthia Collins Heather Haase- Melanie Ryan Kenyon Holmes- Bruce Miller Rebecca Stacey- Misty McClain Kimberly Deanne Morgan- Trisha Hayden Tweedie- Deanna Scott Phillips- Rick Brinke Stevens- Lisa
Directed by Jon Keeyes Screenplay by Jon Keeyes
Distributed by Monarch Home Video
Rated R for violence/terror, language and some sexuality/nudity Runtime- 91 minutes